PHOENIX -- A man who killed nine people at a Thai Buddhist monastery about 20 miles from here will spend the rest of his life in prison for his part in a 1991 massacre that remains the worst mass murder in Arizona history.
Johnathan Doody, 39, was convicted in 1993, but that conviction and subsequent 281-year sentence were thrown out in federal court because his confession was improperly obtained.
He went back to trial in the fall and started again in December after a mistrial. Doody was reconvicted in January of all nine murders, plus counts of armed robbery, burglary and conspiracy.
Judge Joseph Kreamer of Maricopa County Superior Court imposed a sentence of life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years for each of the murders. Doody was given credit for 22 years on the first count; the rest must be served back to back.
Kreamer also sentenced Doody to 12 years in prison for each of nine counts of armed robbery, 12 years for burglary and nine years for conspiracy. All of those sentences will run at the same time but after the life sentences are completed. Although Arizona no longer has any mechanism to grant parole, technically, the earliest Doody could be eligible for it would be in 175 years.
The sentence of life without parole did not exist at the time of the murders. Although Doody could have been sentenced to death in the first trial, he was not eligible in this trial because a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision banned the death penalty for persons who committed murders before age 18.
Doody was 17 at the time the crimes were committed.
On Aug. 10, 1991, nine bodies were found face down and shot to death at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist temple in Waddell, Ariz. The victims were all Thais or of Thai descent, as is Doody: the temple's abbot, Pairuch Kanthong; the five monks, Surichai Anuttaro, Boochuay Chaiyarach, Chalerm Chantapim, Siang Ginggaeo and Somsak Sopha; a nun, Foy Sripanpasert; her nephew, Matthew Miller, who was a novice monk; and a temple employee, Chirasak Chirapong.
Acting on a tip, Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies arrested five men from Tucson and extracted false confessions from four of them. Investigators stumbled on Doody, then 17, and his best friend, Alex Garcia, who was 16, almost by accident, and at first tried to make them confess that they acted in concert with the Tucson suspects.
Both teens did confess. The Tucson men eventually were exonerated. Garcia pleaded guilty in exchange for his testimony to avoid the death penalty, which still could be imposed on minors in 1991. Doody was convicted in 1993 and susbsequently sentenced to 281 years in prison.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Doody's conviction in 2008 and again in 2011, and for five years at least, Doody thought he had a chance of returning to life on the outside. A second jury last year could not reach agreement on whether he was guilty or innocent.
He was reconvicted on all counts in January.